A General Confession
In recent weeks our nation has been going through an unusual experience. It has heard the word ‘sorry’ shouted from the rooftops by people who always seemed above the law. In fact ‘sorry’ is seldom heard in everyday life even when mistakes have been made, a sort of ‘take it or leave it’ attitude. But now there seems to be a cry of repentance. What is the fear? I suspect; punishment of some kind. The word ‘repent’ is no stranger to Christians because it stands at the beginning of our gospels. John the Baptist uses it and for Jesus it prefaces his ministry. The Baptist preaches, ‘there will be a great day so prepare’. Our Lord preaches that it is here so repent. What is repentance? If we look at the Greek and Latin translations we find they use metanoia and conversation morum which mean change your mind, your way of life. Jesus announced that in his person the Kingdom of God had arrived so his people must change their lives, repent. The Jews had suffered badly both at the hands of foreign armies and in the way they had treated each
other – read the Psalms and you will know what I mean. Now they must learn to love and serve others because that is how their heavenly Father works. When we are baptized today, or renew our baptismal promises, we promise to turn to Christ and renounce evil, to repent. Is it too much to hope that modern-day sinners might learn that lesson?
The General Confession from the Book of Common Prayer
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men:
We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness,
Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word and deed,
Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us.
We do earnestly repent, And are heartily sorry for these our misdoings;
The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable.
Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father;
For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past;
And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please thee In newness of life,
To the honour and glory of thy name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.